The application of natural and anthropogenic trace substances in oceanographic studies of the Weddell Sea is reviewed. The potential of some steady-state and transient tracers (tritium, CFC-11 and CFC-12, O-18 and helium isotopes) for studies of deep water formation and circulation is discussed on the basis of data sets collected mainly on cruises of R/V "Polarstern" to the Weddell Sea during the 1980s. CFC/tritium ratio dating of young water masses is applied to estimate mean age and transit times of water involved in Weddell Sea Bottom Water formation. The history of the CFC-11/tritium ratio through time is derived for Weddell Sea shelf waters.
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